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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Ireland could be out of time on clock changes after EU votes to scrap

Clocks go forward an hour from 1am to 2am on Sunday, but the European Parliament has voted to abolish this in future
Clocks go forward an hour from 1am to 2am on Sunday, but the European Parliament has voted to abolish this in future

The clocks go forward an hour for the summer this weekend, but it could be for one of the last times.

The EU has agreed to abolish the seasonal change in two years' time.

European politicians voted overwhelmingly in favour of member states not having to move an hour forward in summer and an hour back in winter.

The European Parliament voted by a majority of 410 to 192 in favour of ending the seasonal time shifts.

The proposal will go to EU members for further discussions before any final decision is made.

At one point, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had been pushing for the changes to happen in 2019.

However, the issue was held up in October when a meeting of EU transport ministers argued that the timetable for change was too ambitious.

Choice

Ireland will have a choice of staying on winter or summer time, or to abolish at all, when the proposed changes come into effect in 2021.

The clocks go forward at 1am on Sunday, March 31, thus an hour will be lost under the current system.

The reason it happens in the middle of the night at the weekend is to limit the disruption for schools and businesses.

It is understood that some nations, including Portugal, Greece and the UK, are intending to keep the current twice-yearly changes.

However, with Brexit on the horizon, the change could potentially affect Ireland the most.

A decision must made on whether the country wants to go an hour out of kilter with Northern Ireland.

The alternative is having a further hour difference between Ireland and the other EU member states.

If a hard border is avoided, the time changes could leave border counties in the Republic and the North living in different time zones despite being in close proximity.

Sleep

In September, the European Commission proposed ending the practice after an EU-wide survey showed a large majority in favour of doing so.

The survey generated 4.6 million responses, with 84pc of respondents wanting to end seasonal time changes.

The good news is that we can still all look forward to gaining an hour's sleep when the clocks go back again on Sunday, October 27.

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